SONS OF APOLLO–former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX’ will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats.
Today they launch the Vicente Cordero-directed video for the albums lead single ‘Goodbye Divinity’. Watch it now here:
Mike Portnoy comments: “From the minute we finished writing Goodbye Divinity, I knew we had our album opener and the first release off the album. I even remember posting on social media how excited I was about the song the day I tracked it!
The song has an immediacy that grabs you right away: great riffs, flashy playing and hooky vocal melodies. All of the elements that make up the SOA sound.
The video was directed by Vicente Cordero who I have now done over 20 music videos with and its look helps catapult the band from the Greek mythological past of the last album into the 21st century with this new album.“
Pre-orders are available from today, with digital pre-orders on iTunes & Amazon receiving an immediate download of ‘Goodbye Divinity’.
Brazilian band AlphaJorge have just released their first full-length album, Storm Ahead, on November 16th.
The band started in 2015 with its main goal being not to have a comfort zone. This can be seen not only in the band’s songwriting, but, especially in their live shows.
AlphaJorge is Arthur Rodrigues (guitar/vocals/keyboards), Nick Medeiros (guitar/backing vocals), Thiago Darós (bass/backing vocals) and Diego Rapoport (drums/backing vocals).
After releasing their first EP, Island House (2017), the band rapidly gained some traction in the local rock scene, playing some of the most important stages in the region. In 2018 One More Day was released as a single, as part of a compilation showcasing some of the local scene’s most prominent bands.
Storm Ahead showcases the band leaving their past blues rock influences aside and embracing progressive rock at last, along with more complex and detailed songwriting.
When playing live, these challenging compositions are enhanced with extended and lively improvisation segments that travel through many different genres, from reggae to blues, from EDM to heavy metal. This, along with everchanging setlists, brings every single AlphaJorge concert a nice dose of unpredictability, making each and every show an unique experience.
“Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.” – Louis Armstrong.
Sage words from the great Satchmo himself, music is the most life affirming thing there is, it can console you when you are sad and lift you up to the heavens when you are happy, it compliments your moods and makes the world a better place to live in.
French musician Franck Carducci creates music that puts a huge smile on your face, it rocks and it rolls with passion, intensity and not a little humour and The Franck Carducci Band are one of the most incredible propositions in a live setting.
I got to know Franck from his second album, the fantastic Torn Apart, and have been eagerly awaiting the follow up for a few years now.
Finally, here is The Answer and I have been privileged to have this release as my musical companion for quite a while now so do feel I am duly qualified to give my impressions
The CD contains six tracks along with four bonus cuts and sets a fire up your derriere from the first song to the last…
The album opens with Franck in his classic rock persona on the lengthy (Love is) The Answer, like Led Zeppelin got lost in the studio and gatecrashed a Yes recording session. Eight minutes of swirling Hammond organ and mellotron from Olivier Castan combined with some dextrous guitar playing and even some Didgeridoo (yes you read that right!) to leave you with a big slice of pomp and circumstance done in the inimitable way that only Franck can do.
Slave To Rock and Roll is a fantastic hard rock track that puts a huge grin on your face, Christophe Obadia and Steve Marsala trading funky riffs around that ever so cool Hammond sound with Franck’s great vocals aided and abetted by Mary Reynaud’s silken backing. Everything is held together by the powerhouse drumming of Antonino Reina and the wonderful bass from the master himself, throw in a superb solo and it’s damn near perfect.
You, dear listener, then get treated to two songs that can only be described as progressive rock but prog rock that has that particular Carducci tinge to it. Superstar is as 70’s prog as they come, wondrous stories being weaved before your very eyes with Mary’s silken vocals adding an almost elfin feel to things. Wistful and yet with a knowing look as it opens up into something much more compelling and dynamic, an absolute aural treat. The After Effect is much more direct and vibrant, a ying to the previous track’s yang if you like, and feels like a hell for leather, breakneck ride at times (a hugely enjoyable one though!). I get the distinct feeling that the band are having an absolute blast while making this album, the energy and vitality are palpable.
A beautiful piano led composition, The Game of Life lets everyone take a breather after the brilliantly hectic start. Richard Vecchi‘s ivory tinkling and the elegant trumpet playing of Thierry Seneau add to the composed vocal performance that Franck delivers to give a song that oozes class and style.
This album is sounding like Franck has taken Led Zeppelin and Gentle Giant and thrown a bit of Genesis and Jimi Hendrix in the mix too and that is rubber stamped by the brilliant Asylum, a fantastic eleven minutes of progressive rock, hard rock, funk and soul that rocks like a b*tch from beginning to end with the excellent Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums) and Fabrice Dutour (guitar) adding their undoubted chops to the mix. It seriously doesn’t get better than this!
The four bonus track add to the already impressive six songs that make up the main body of this release. The Road to Nowhere is an acoustic sing-along that will undoubtedly become a live favourite and Beautiful Night is a wistful, nostalgic tune that will see the lighters (or mobile phones) come out at live shows. The album then closes out with radio cuts of the first two tracks that end everything rather nicely.
The Answer leaves a huge grin on my face, a highly enjoyable cornucopia of musical delights taking you on an amazing journey through 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, funk and pure rock and roll. Containing some utter Carducci gems, this album just keeps getting better and better with every listen and is by far Franck’s most cohesive and impressive work yet.
Curated by Tim Bowness,Worlds Of Yesterday is Moonshot‘s first official compilation since Shot Hits in 1979.
From the Crimson-esque grandeur of The Sweetest Bitter Pill to the straightforward beauty of Before That Before, via the warped creativity of Lost In The Ghost Light and the engaging Pop of Stupid Things That Mean The World, WOY contains the band’s strongest work from 1971-1992.
Though Moonshot may not have reached the commercial and creative peaks of celebrated Progressive peers such as Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and King Crimson, they were arguably one of the best of the chasing pack and fully deserve to be named alongside the likes of Gentle Giant, Camel, Greenslade, The Yorkshire Parkin Experiment, BJH, Gryphon, PFM, Prawn, Ange and others.Worlds Of Yesterday is a fine testament to a fine band.
The album is available from Plane Groovy Records and includes the bands’ hit singles Before That Before and Stupid Things That Mean The World.
“My 2017 release Lost In The Ghost Light was a homage to the classic Rock album era. The album revolved around my interpretation of the contemporary musings of Moonshot leader Jeff Harrison, though the events in the songs took place between 1967 and 2017. During this period, Rock music had gone from a revolutionary force that defined the zeitgeist to the exact opposite (a safe and nostalgic reminder of a better time). Jeff’s career was of interest to me because he came from my home town and was born on the same date as me in exactly the same place (Victoria Park Maternity Home in Warrington as I’m sure you’re eager to know). It was 16 years earlier, but how could I not be curious?“, says Tim Bowness.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, there were no local musicians of note from the area, so (in both a good and a bad way) Jeff became something of a home town legend regularly played by DJs such as The Longford Lover.” Tim carries on to say.
“On a personal level, I was interested in how Jeff and Moonshot had been passionately principled for its first 10 years, but seemed a little exhausted and compromised from that point on. Where did the inspiration / drive go? How was all relevance and credibility lost? Why did Jeff make the career choices he did?”
The Moonshot album will be available via Burning Shed and will come with a free download of the album plus extra tracks. Details of the extras will be confirmed closer to the release date, pre-order at the link below.
SONS OF APOLLO – former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats. Pre-orders for all formats will be available starting November 15th, which will include an instant download of the album’s first single, ‘Goodbye Divinity,’ on iTunes and Amazon.
A teaser trailer was released on Inside Out’s official YouTube page here
“Stylistically, we have followed the same path as the debut,” outlines drummer Mike Portnoy. “But we feel that it has come out stronger, simply because we know one another better. ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’ was the first time the five of us had worked together, so there was bound to be an air of experimentation happening. Now, we can draw on having the experience not only of recording that album, but also of touring together a lot. And now there is clearly a lot more obvious chemistry going on.”
“We did 83 shows on the last tour,” adds keyboardist Derek Sherinian. “And it was so worthwhile, because we came out of it with a stronger bond, and that is certainly reflected in what we wrote.”
The writing process began at the start of the year, as Portnoy, Sherinian and guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal got together. “The three of us were at my home studio in Pennsylvania,” explains Portnoy. “And it took about three weeks to get all the music written. That was a very smooth process. The last time, it certainly must have felt a little weird for Bumblefoot to be writing with Derek and me, because we were strangers to him. Now, we know one another better and that helped things push along.”
“Because we all have our home studios, it meant everyone could record there as and when they had opportunity,” continues Sherinian. “We all had the luxury of being able to take our time to get all the parts done, which was a huge help in the way the album’s come out. I suppose in all, it took about eight months to record everything.”
The lyrics were written by Soto, who also came up with the melody lines with input from Sherinian. “While Jeff was left to come up with the words on his own, as the melody lines are part of the music, it made sense for me to be involved with that part,” says the keyboard player.
There are eight tracks on ‘MMXX’, with variations in length totalling 60 minutes. “The final song is ‘New World Today, which is 16 minutes long,” says Portnoy. “This one has elements similar to ‘Opus Maximus’ and ‘Labyrinth’ on the previous album. It has some insane, brilliant instrumental moments, which I am sure the fans will love.”
“We wanted to do something epic here, as we did with ‘Opus Maximus’ last time around,” adds Sherinian. “You have to remember that Mike and I come from Dream Theater, where we never bothered about how long a song was. So, for us doing a 16 minute track is not a problem.”
Here’s the track listing for MMXX: 1. Goodbye Divinity (7:16)
2. Wither To Black (4:48)
3. Asphyxiation (5:09)
4. Desolate July (6:11)
5. King Of Delusion (8:49)
6. Fall To Ascend (5:07)
7. Resurrection Day (5:51)
8. New World Today (16:38)
The album title was inspired by a simple chronological fact. “This will be released in mid-January 2020,” says Portnoy. “That means it will be one of the first releases in what is a new decade. So I came up with the idea of calling it ‘2020,” except having it written in the Latin form of ‘MMXX’.”
And the album’s artwork has been created by Thomas Ewerhard (who was responsible for the cover design of ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’), which inevitably reflects the title.
As Portnoy explains, “For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there’s a much more futuristic style to what we’ve got. It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old fashioned look.”
“Each member of this band has their own signature sound on their instrument,” adds Sherinian. “And when you put all of this together what you get is a wonderful five-headed beast. It makes this a sonically special band, which is definitely what comes across on ‘MMXX’. You can hear odd time signatures and amazingly crazy performances here. Overall, we’ve been satisfyingly more adventurous this time than we were before, and I know people are sure to love what we’ve done.”
In touring news, the band’s headlining ‘MMXX World Tour’ will launch January 24th in Pomona, CA, USA and will take them around the world throughout the new year. They have also just announced European tour dates for March 2020, and you can find those below: Europe 2020 Mon 2nd March Drammen, Norway Union Scene
Tue 3rd March Gothenburg, Sweden Traedgarn
Thu 5th March Kyiv, Ukraine N.A.U Theatre
Sat 7th March Moscow, Russia RED
Sun 9th March St Petersburg, Russia Aurora
Tue 10th March Pratteln, Switzerland Z7
Wed 11th March Milan, Italy Live Club
Fri 13th March Bilbao, Spain Santana 27
Sat 14th March Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2
Sun 15th March Madrid, Spain La Riviera
Thu 19th March London, U.K. Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 20th March Eindhoven, Netherlands Prognosis Festival
It’s not often that I am gobsmacked by a new release but the new album from no-man, the Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness project, left me quite a bit dumb-founded on first listen.
Like some strange symbiosis of 80’s pop, 90’s dance music and noughties prog, Love You To Bits wasn’t what I was expecting from prog’s standard bearer – Wilson – and the master of cool – Bowness…
The new album, the first studio release in eleven years consists of two connected five-part pieces (Love You To Bits and Love You To Pieces), was twenty-five years in the making and lyrically chronicles the aftermath of a relationship from different perspectives.
Adam Holzman, David Kollar, Ash Soan, Pete Morgan and the Dave Desmond Brass Quintet guest. Produced by no-man, the album was mixed by Bruno Ellingham and mastered by Matt Colton.
Steven Wilson has been very successful at re-inventing progressive rock over recent years and, with his long-term partner in crime Mr Bowness, it appears that they have decided to re-invent what would be considered ‘pop’ music to most ears.
And, to my utmost astonishment, it actually bloody works (I make no apologies for the expletive, I was that surprised!). Using the velvety, comforting tones of Tim’s excellent vocals over an EDM/electronica inspired back-beat is just genius. There’s a vibrancy that is absent from a lot of today’s music, be it pop, progressive or whatever, it just leaves a huge grin on my face.
This inventive and entertaining album never fails to surprise at every turn with elements of pulsating fusion and a wistful and poignant ambience interspersed with crashing guitars and edgy drumbeats.
I have no idea what Steven and Tim were on when they came up with the idea for this pulsating masterpiece but, by golly, can they please give some to the rest of what is becoming a very moribund music scene.
Love You To Bits is a utterly fascinating and overwhelmingly entertaining musical adventure with superb dynamism and a diversity rarely seen in the strictures of conventional music.
Just do yourselves a favour and go and buy it, you will not regret it!
“The expansive soundscape driven into their third offering blows the gates wide open with a wealth of captivating melodic prog rock tracks, delivered with a quintessentially British level of class and sincerity despite the very serious and thought-provoking undertones etched into the music.”
You’ve got to love a bit of PR blurb (well I do, because I used to write it!) and this gem, delivered with the latest release from UK based sextet The Room, certainly does capture the imagination.
On the subject of the album’s title, The Room comment that the concept of being ‘Caught By The Machine’ directly relates to the feeling one experiences when the state, a job, a relationship or even a drug begins to control their every living moment. It is a reflection on many aspects of the modern world, for better or worse.
Formed in 2010 by Andy Rowe along with Martin Wilson and Steve Anderson from neo-prog rock band Grey Lady Down, The Room never fail to deliver an outstanding performance – both in the studio and in a live environment.
I am going nowhere near the age old “Is it Prog?” debate with this review, I am judging everything on its own merits, after all it doesn’t matter what genre you may or may not think it sits in. There’s a simple question that needs to be asked, is it any good?
Well Martin Wilson’s vocals are on top form throughout, he has a commanding and powerful vocal style that really demands attention, the fact that is is very melodic just adds to the exciting mix. The addition of Eric Bouillette’s guitar, along with band stalwart Steve Anderson, adds a harder rock edge and some very impressive solos and the rhythm section of Chris York and Andy Rowe is as impressive and dependable as ever. April 2018 saw the departure of keyboardist Steve Checkley and the arrival of new keys maestro Mark Dixon who has fitted in seamlessly.
‘Caught By The Machine’ is a very tightly created collection of ten songs that have been crafted meticulously to the last detail (the Production by prog legend John Mitchell is particularly notable), excellent songwriting giving us gems like opener Bodies on the Road, The Golden Ones and Vanished. Tracks that flow perfectly from beginning to end with catchy chorus and exemplary musicianship.
The Room have created their own distinctive sound from debut release ‘Open Fire’ through to the sophomore album ‘Beyond the Gates of Bedlam’ and that continues on the latest release but here it has matured and become something very classy indeed. Driving guitars, swirling keyboards, a dynamic rhythm section and Wilson’s urgent vocals creating highs of the likes of Run, Drowning In Sound and my particular favourite: It’s Not My Home.
The reggae guitar infused Broken seems a little out of place to me but, other wise, there are no low points in this memorable album. I got to the end of the darkly delicious final track Bloodstream and just pressed play again.
‘Caught By The Machine’ shows a band who are evolving into a major player. Inventive, impressive and superbly crafted, the simple answer is yes, it is very good indeed…
YES, one of the most innovative of all prog-rock bands, and true legends of the genre, have announced a 8-date UK tour for May and June of 2020. The Album Series 2020 Tour will feature their 1974 Relayer album in its entirety together with a selection of other classic YES favourites. An extensive European tour will be announced soon.
This tour follows their 2018 highly successful #YES50 Anniversary tour and again features the line-up of Steve Howe (guitars), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Billy Sherwood (bass guitar and backing vocals), Jon Davison (vocals) and Jay Schellen (additional drums and percussion).
The show will comprise two sets by the band with full production and a high definition video wall. The first will feature favourite classic tracks from YES’ extensive catalogue. The second will feature Relayer, the seventh studio album by YES, and one of the band’s most distinctive. Relayer marked a slight change in direction as Patrick Moraz replaced Rick Wakeman on keyboards bringing an edgier, avant-garde feel to the album. This was perfect for the opening track Gates Of Delirium, almost 22minutes in length, with its battle scene featuring the keyboard of Moraz and Steve Howe’s guitar. The battle gives way to the beautiful closing ballad Soon, a prayer for peace and hope.
The album continues with Sound Chaser, a prog-rock-jazz fusion experiment heavily influenced by Moraz’s style and To Be Over, a calm and gentle conclusion to the album, based on a melody by Steve Howe. Released in late 1974 on Atlantic Records, Relayer continued YES’ success reaching number 4 in the UK album chart and number 5 in the US Billboard chart.
“We are really looking forward to playing ALL of the Relayer album” says Steve Howe. “Having premiered The Gates Of Delirium this year, we continue by expanding our Album Series with all the tracks: The Gates Of Delirium, Sound Chaser and To Be Over.” Howe goes on to say: “During the first half of the evening we’ll be performing a refined selection from Yes’ enormous 50 year + repertoire. See you there!”
Alan White comments: “I always enjoy coming home to England so I’m especially looking forward to Yes’ upcoming “Album Series 2020” tour. “Relayer” I believe, is one of the most creative and interesting musical compilations in the bands repertoire. Challenging and extremely enjoyable to play, I’m happy to be bringing this music back to live stages throughout Europe. I hope all who attend our shows will enjoy these cuts as much as we like performing them for our audiences.”
UK dates are as follows: Tuesday 26 May Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Wednesday 27 May Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Friday 29 May York Barbican
Saturday 30 May Gateshead The Sage
Sunday 31 May Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Tuesday 2 June Birmingham Symphony Hall
Wednesday 3 June Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Friday 5 June London Royal Albert Hall
Tickets go onsale at 10.00am Friday 11th October and are available from: 24hr Ticket Hotline: 0844 249 2222 bookingsdirect.com Meet & Greet packages available, for info go to yesworld.com Showtime is 8pm. Roger Dean will attend every show on the UK and European dates, and will have an exhibition of his iconic art, will be available to chat with fans front of house and sign merch, plus will be in the VIP meet and greets.
Formed in 1968 by Jon Anderson and the late, and much-missed, Chris Squire, YES have been one of the most innovative, influential and best-loved bands in rock music history. Their 1970s albums The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge, Yessongs (a triple live album set), Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer and Going For The One were ground-breaking in musical style and content. Their music also became synonymous with artist Roger Dean whose distinctive YES logo design and artwork adorned the lavish gatefold presentation sleeves of many YES albums.With sales of over 50 million records, the Grammy-award winning YES were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017 where they performed Roundabout from the album Fragile and the FM radio-friendly Owner Of A Lonely Heart from the 1985 album 90125.
What exactly is ‘A
Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’?
According to Wikipedia (and who could doubt that source of information!) ‘A Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ is a website created by John Koenig that defines neologisms (that’s new words and phrases to you and me) which are designed to define emotions for which we do not yet have a descriptive term. When you hear this new album by Nova Cascade you can sense why they might decide to use that phrase to name their album. Previously describing themselves as ‘Ambient Progressive Rock’, on their promising but minimalist debut album Above All Else, Nova Cascade have developed that blueprint further with more defined pieces. but there is still an overriding sense of fragility and dreamlike visions which are hard to define.
Nova Cascade have now moved on from their peculiar origins in an online gaming chatroom out of which artists shared musical ideas, and now present a more fully formed and mature album. The sparse, organic feel which characterised ‘Above All Else’ now gives way to a more lush and layered approach but at heart they retain their more ambient and impressionistic style, with some echoes of later Talk Talk. The gorgeous cover artwork by Charlie Bramald places us in a warm, shimmering and comfortable candle-lit library, and the music conveys a sense we are sat in the glow of candle light as we hear these lush sounds which contain contrasting stories of light and darkness.
Dave Hilborne appears to lead this project with his distinctive light, breathy vocalisation and subtle synth laden soundscapes, such as the opening instrumental Unwavering. There is also a slightly harder edge on some songs, such as the bitter Rabbit Hole (with echoes of later Peter Gabriel) which features quite a percussive programmed edge and pointed lines about deceit:
‘This illusion you expertly weave,
Let’s take a trip to the far side,
Descend in a rabbit hole of deceit.’
However, even such perspectives are coated in fairly lush production with no sharp edges. Echo and Narcissus flows languidly in on a bed of keyboards and softly programmed percussion. Hilborne’s delicate vocals reflect the disappearing fragility of the legendary Echo as she wasted away until only her voice remained. Once again rather tortured lyrics are conveyed in swathes of restrained, rather gentle instrumentation, particularly the evocative violin of Eric Bouillette. Such agony rarely sounded so delicate:
And, oh, that stench in the air is your hate
Just leave me be with what’s left of my fractured soul
Nova Cascade seem to like touching on sinister or negative subjects in rather pastoral ways, such as the instrumental Apophis, which may refer to an Egyptian Pharaoh or an ancient Egyptian ‘chaotic being’ until you read the sleeves and note one small line: ‘All Eyes to the Sky in 2029…’ a quick internet search reveals that Apophis is a sizeable ‘near Earth’ Asteroid that in 2004 was thought to have a distinct possibility of striking Earth catastrophically in 2029. Readers will be pleased to hear that after re-calculations this possibility has now been deemed Zero! Nevertheless, it gives Nova Cascade the excuse to compose a suitably spacey soundscape, enhanced by Charlie Bramald’s stellar flute, which is then transformed with some more ominous synth throbs before floating off in to space again.
In contrast the nostalgic Plasticine and Paint touchingly conjures up idyllic visions and memories of childhood with Bramald’s subtle flute underlining the sense of pastoral reminiscence in a rather beautiful piece. In their previous album ‘Above All Else’ there was a sense of it being a rather ‘home made’ or even a ‘demo’ type album, which it’s organic and intuitive approach to capturing sound enhanced. Nova Cascade seem to have moved on from that rather lo-fi or sparse feel but have not lost that essence of fragility and dream like quality.
The centrepiece to the whole album is the decidedly more ambitious extended instrumental ‘A Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ which features the Blue Man Group drummer David Anania (indeed the album sound overall would have benefited from more use of a live drummer than programmed percussion.) It is interesting that in the sleeve notes in relation to this song Dave Hilborne has quoted a few ‘neologisms’ for hard to describe feelings, presumably from the aforementioned Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, including:
‘Sonder’ – The realization that each random
passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own
‘Kenopsia’ – The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a
place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet
Not only are those great new words I will try to use in the right context in future, but somehow the music in this imaginative and evocative piece of work conveys those intangible and almost impossible to define feelings. Hilborne paints the main canvas on keyboards alongside the ever present deft bassist Dave Fick, especially in the second half when Anania’s drums have more impact. Eric Bouillette chimes in with a subtle Steve Rothery like guitar solo in the closing stages in the most ‘progressive’ track on the album.
Nova Cascade quote the now sadly deceased Mark Hollis of Talk Talk in their sleeve notes;:
‘Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note,
y’know? And don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it’.
Such a quote tells us where Nova Cascade are coming from, and conveys their philosophy in where they want to go. This album is certainly no ‘Spirit of Eden’ by Talk Talk (and to be fair what else is? – it’s an all time classic!) but you can tell that would have been an influence, especially in the vocals. Guitars, piano, bass and guitars weave together melodically. There are times when it is beguiling and beautiful – there are other times for this listener when I just want something a little more of substance to hold on to as you drift in an ocean of ethereal , vague subtlety. Nevertheless, ‘A Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ is certainly a very significant step up from ‘Above All Else’ . This album would appeal to lovers of delicate, ambient soundscapes and softly pastoral sounds and images, and I have a sense that the ethereal and talented Nova Cascade will show even more development of their distinctive sound and style in the future…
… now I just need to find a word that can convey that hard to define that feeling?
Afenginn, which means “intoxication and strength” in old norse, is Danish composer and musician, Kim Rafael Nyberg, one of the leading neo-folk, post-classical voices in Scandinavia.
Having toured all over Europe, Australia and the US and performed at numerous festivals, concert halls and venues, Nyberg’s deeply ambitious, orchestrated compositions are based on his seemingly mercurial creative impulses with a strong DIY underpinning, with each of his previous bodies of work being a clear departure from the last. Obvious comparisons would be Hauschka, Goldmund, Jonny Greenwood and Dustin O’Halloran.
“Klingra (circle in Faroese) is one of my more delicate and introspective pieces that leans one degree further into the neo-classical realm. I’ve been working with the theme of circles/cycles to inspire both the way the music is composed and the story within the poetry”, says Nyberg.
With a sound palette of two pianos, a string quartet (The Danish String Quartet), pedal steel guitar, synth bass and two drummers supporting the haunting vocals of Ólavur Jákupsson (Yann Tiersen), the music is incredibly intense, both emotionally and dynamically.
It speaks of stark landscapes, too big for the human mind to comprehend, almost pagan and primeval, of the land and with millennia of history coursing through every note and word. It is a powerful and cinematic soundscape on which Nyberg layers his palette of beautiful and ethereal pieces of music.
So exquisite is the music that it is almost painful to behold in its minimalistic glory, the norse melancholy drawing you into its intricate web of gradually building emotive tension. The highlights are many but Vitin (the lighthouse) leaves an emotional mark on you that lingers long after the mournful strings fade away to just be a lingering memory.
Any of these wondrous compositions could be used as a dark cinematic soundtrack, the fragility and contemplative feel leaves you thoughtful and almost overwhelmed by empathy, I have not heard anything quite like this in a very long while. Ólavur’s deeply moving vocals are the perfect foil for the wistful and winsome grace of the music and will move you to your very soul.
Music for long winter evenings in the company of someone you love, ‘Klingra’ will make time stand still as you listen to every nuance and subtlety, it is an incredibly involving experience that I believe everyone should enjoy at least once.